In 1877 Louis and Agnes DeMartin moved to Wilson Creek in northern California, where they built a log home for their large family that included 10+ children. To reach the area, the family traveled by pack mule along an overland trail.
At first, the family raised sheep, but soon switched to cattle, hogs, and assorted crops. They even opened up their home to travelers, charging 25 cents for a bed and about the same for a plate of Agnes’ famous baked beans. In 1889 the DeMartins built a new home and hostelry, with more space for travelers.
Louis passed away in 1907, at which time his children undertook a complete reconstruction of the house, including the addition of a second story. The house remained in the hands of the DeMartin family until 1944, when it was sold. By 1985, the house was vacant and boarded up, and locals questioned whether it should be torn down.
HI-USA stepped in. In partnership with the National Park Service, the Coastal Conservancy, and the California Conservation Corps., the building was renovated once again and Redwood Hostel (now HI-Redwood National Park) opened its doors in June 1987,
On July 21, we will celebrate the centennial of the historic DeMartin home here at Wilson Creek, and 20 years of serving the community as part of Hostelling International. The celebration will feature music, tasty food, and honored guests and speakers. Bring a sweater, a friend, and stories or photos for the Redwood Hostel History Project.
The fun will begin around 2pm and go until sundown. If you’re visiting for the day, no reservations are needed. But there is limited space for overnight guests, so call soon to reserve your bed. Also, just for this weekend, the National Park is allowing some camping. For more information, give us a call. 707.482.8265
On a related note, one of the descendents of Louis and Agnes DeMartin told me they were buried in the cemetery up in Crescent City. I stopped by two days ago to visit the family plot. Looking at the marker, I was quite surprised to learn that Louis died on July 21, 1907–exactly 100 years to the day before our party honoring the home that his children built on the land he settled. Coincidence? I think…so.